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New coat of paint for town’s water tank to cost about $1.8 million

The big orange, rusty Riverhead water tank just east of United Riverhead Terminals in Northville will need a new paint job, at a cost of about $1.8 million, officials said Thursday.

Plant 10, a 40-foot high ground storage tank, “was built in 1989 and it hasn’t been maintained since then,” said Frank Mancini, Riverhead’s new Water District Superintendent. It has a 1.5 million gallon capacity.

“It’s experiencing coating failures,” Mr. Mancini told the Riverhead Town Board at their work session. “The coating is at the end of the useful life. And now is the time to paint it. It aligns with our capital project plan, so we just need to start the process and have a public hearing to obtain this bond. If we don’t do this now, the cost of maintaining this tank will increase.”

Earlier this year, the Town Board approved various Water District rate increase designed to generate an additional $1.6 million per year in fees, which officials hope to use to fund repairs to water tanks and other water district facilities.

Those new rates went into effect Oct. 1 and will be used to fund the Plant 10 project, Mr. Mancini said. 

“It’s in a tough spot, close to Long Island Sound where there is a lot of salt water,” Mr. Mancini said. “It’s actually orange in color because the coating is that bad.”

Supervisor Yvette Aguiar asked what a replacement tank would cost. 

Mr. Mancini said a new tank could cost about $2.8 million, but it would require more maintenance. He feels the town is better off maintaining the existing tank. 

If the town were to lose the use of Plant 10 in the summer or peak times, “we will be shutting people off. It would be a real water emergency,” Mr. Mancini said. 

A new paint job would last a little longer than 20 years, Mr. Mancini said. 

Town Board members seemed to agree with Mr. Mancini that more maintenance is needed. 

“I think the lessons we’ve learned about kicking the can down the road over the years is that it will come back to bite us in the derrière,” said Councilman Tim Hubbard. “So I think the smart thing to do is to invest in the painting and maintenance.”

Councilwoman Catherine Kent said she was in favor. 

“Certainly these are challenging time for all towns financially, but I think it’s key that we keep up with the basic infrastructure,” she said.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio added: “If you have a leaky roof and you don’t have the money to replace the whole roof, you fix the roof leak.”